Malcolm Wheeler's practice focuses on large and complex business litigation and product liability litigation, especially nationwide "pattern" litigation, class actions, and appeals. He has defended manufacturers at trial in several highly publicized cases, including the Ford Pinto criminal case, the damages trial in the Kearns windshield-wiper patent case, the first "no airbag" case tried to verdict, the first defective airbag case tried to verdict, and cases in the medical device, pharmaceutical, chemical, automotive, and appliance industries. He has served as national trial counsel for Ford, Pfizer, and Nissan, and as national class action counsel for Whirlpool. He has briefed and argued cases in the United States Supreme Court and in multiple United States Courts of Appeals and state appellate courts throughout the country.
Mal is an elected Fellow in the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and in the American College of Trial Lawyers. In 2010, Product Liability Law360 named him one of the 10 most admired product liability lawyers in the United States. For several years beginning in 2010, Chambers USA named him one of only three nationwide "star individuals" in product liability. Mal has appeared on the Colorado Super Lawyers® Top 10 list multiple times and was the "top point getter" in 2010 and 2011. In 2011, Mal was featured on the cover and profiled in the annual publication.
Mal has been the designated media representative for several Fortune 500 companies in connection with major litigation. In that role, he has appeared on nationally broadcast television programs, including ABC's 20/20, CNN's Burden of Proof, Dateline NBC, and 90 Minutes (a European news show), as well as nationally broadcast radio programs.
Assisted a biotech company in an appellate briefing before the Federal Circuit, resulting in reversal of an adverse summary judgment and remand to the state court where our client had filed the complaint.
Won a unanimous defense verdict in California Superior Court on behalf of Nissan in a lawsuit involving a claim that an allegedly defective seat system resulted in Plaintiff's quadriplegia following a horrific car crash. Wirsz v. Nissan North America Inc., No. BC377417 (Cal. Super. Ct., Los Angeles County).
Obtained 88% reduction in the appeal of a punitive damages award. Hudgins v. Southwest Airlines, Co., 212 P.3d 810 (Ariz. App. 2009).
Defeated certification of a multistate class action in Arkansas federal court involving claims that certain Whirlpool-made refrigerators were defective. Rush v. Whirlpool Corp., 2008 WL 509562 (W.D. Ark. Feb. 22, 2008).
Represented Pfizer in a groundbreaking preemption case before the Third Circuit. McNellis v. Pfizer, Nos. 06-3107 and 06-5148, 2008 WL 927848 (3d Cir. Apr. 8, 2008).
Obtained dismissal with prejudice of plaintiffs' class action allegations in a putative nationwide class action alleging that more than one million of Whirlpool's refrigerators were defective. Obtained dismissal with prejudice of the plaintiffs' class action allegations. Dennis v. Whirlpool Corp., Case No. 06-CIV-80784 (S.D. Fla. Mar. 13, 2007).
Defended Ford Motor in a four-month class-action trial involving $2 billion in consumer-fraud claims. On the day set for closing arguments, the plaintiffs agreed to a no-cash, coupon-based settlement for the California class and classes in three other states with pending parallel actions.
Obtained summary judgment for Pfizer on preemption grounds in a case alleging that a popular antidepressant caused suicide. Dusek v. Pfizer.
Defeated class status and a recall attempt against Nissan in a putative class action involving airbags. Estrada v. Nissan North America, Inc.
Won summary judgment for Pfizer in federal court in Kansas in a case alleging that the company's antidepressant led to the suicide of a minor. Miller v. Pfizer Inc.
Obtained summary judgment for Pfizer in a case in California alleging wrongful death, failure to warn, and other claims involving the company's popular antidepressant. Motus v. Pfizer Inc.
Won a U.S. Supreme Court victory for Honda in a precedent-setting case involving federal preemption standards as applied to airbags in the automotive industry. Geier v. American Honda Co..
In Tebbetts v. Ford Motor Co., won a New Hampshire "no airbag" trial for Ford before getting all no-airbag cases held preempted in Geier in the U.S. Supreme Court.
LeJeune v. Ford Motor Co.
Martinez v. Ford Motor Co.
Lebouef v. Ford Motor Co.
Diaz v. Ford Motor Co.
Wolfe v. Ford Motor Co.
Barnhill v. Ford Motor Co.
Hubbard v. Ford Motor Co.
Turnquest v. Ford Motor Co.
Waters v. Ford Motor Co.
Obtained a favorable decision on federal preemption grounds in a no-airbag case. Angelopolus v. Ford Motor Co..
Martin v. Ford Motor Co.
Teitloff v. Valcon Materials Co.
Winters v. Ford Motor Co.
Garza v. Ford Motor Co.
Wright v. Ford Motor Co.
Marrs v. Ford Motor Co.
Macko v. Ford Motor Co.
Binakonsky v. Ford Motor Co.
Maheu v. Summa Corp.
Represented Ford Motor Co. against criminal charges of reckless homicide in the design of the Pinto automobile. State of Indiana v. Ford Motor Co.
Represented Ford Motor Co. in the first "no-airbag" case tried to a verdict. Steenbergen v. Ford Motor Co.
Gray v. Ford Motor Co.
Williams v. Whirlpool Corporation .
Oja v. Howmedica Inc.
Montag v. Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
Nguyen v. Whirlpool Corporation
Harris v. Ford Motor Co.
- U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
- U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
- U.S. Supreme Court
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (Partner)
Hughes Hubbard & Reed (Partner)
Parcel, Mauro, Hultin & Spaanstra, P.C. (Director)
University of Iowa College of Law
Professor of Law, 1978-1979
University of Kansas Law School
Associate Professor of Law, 1971-1973
Professor of Law, 1973-1974 and 1981-1983
National Institute for Appellate Advocacy
Annual Advocacy Institute
Appellate Judges Conferences
International Academy of Trial Lawyers
American College of Trial Lawyers
Client Service All-Star, 2011, 2013
Product Liability Law360
Most Admired Product Liability Lawyer, 2010
Product Liability Advisory Council
John Raleigh Lifetime Achievement Award, 2008
Law Week Colorado
"People's Court" Best Class Action/Mass Tort Defense Lawyer, 2011
Product Liability Lawyer of the Year, 2008
The International Who's Who of Product Liability Defense Lawyers,
The International Who's Who of Life Sciences Lawyers,
The International Who's Who of Business Lawyers: Commercial Litigation,
Product Liability: Automobile - National, 2014
Product Liability - National, 2005-2014
Star Individual, 2010-2013
Leading Individual, Automobile, 2010-2013
Litigation: Trial Lawyer - National, 2013
Commercial Litigation - Colorado, 2005-2014
The Legal 500 United States
Leading Lawyer, Litigation: Product Liability and Mass Tort Defense,
Denver Personal Injury Litigation - Defense Lawyer of the Year, 2012
Personal Injury Litigation, 2003-2015
Product Liability Litigation, 2003-2015
Commercial Litigation - National, 2011-2015
Commercial Litigation - Colorado, 2011-2015
Products Liability - National, 2012, 2014-2015
Products Liability - Colorado, 2013-2015
Colorado Super Lawyer
Civil Litigation Defense, 2006-2014
Top Point Getter, 2010, 2011
Top 10, 2008-2014
The National Law Journal
Top 10 Trial Lawyers, 1998
Who's Who in America, 1987-2011
Who's Who in American Law, 1998-2011
Who's Who in the West, 1996-2012
The Tenth Judicial Circuit Historical Society
Board Member, 2007-2010
Colorado Bar Association
American Bar Association
State Bar of California
American Law Institute
Restatement of the Law (Third) of Torts
Adviser, Apportionment of Liability
Adviser, General Principles
Adviser, Liability for Physical and Emotional Harm
Members Consultative Group, Products Liability
Product Liability Advisory Council
Martindale-Hubbell AV® Peer Review Rated*
*CV, BV, and AV are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards, and policies.
Chief Counsel, United States Senate Select Committee to Study Law Enforcement Undercover Activities of Components of the Department of Justice (ABSCAM), 1982